Culture and Traditions of Gilgit Baltistan
Gilgit Baltistan is located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a very versatile province of Pakistan. Mountains like K-2, Gasherbrum II, Hidden Peak, Kangri, Gasherbrum I, and many others are probably located on either side of this area. Tibetans and some Iranians live in this area as their primary residence. There is peace because there are fewer people living here than in other parts of Pakistan. Shina is the primary language spoken in Gilgit, but many other languages are also spoken there, including Urdu, Tebitian, Burushaski, Khowar, Balti, and, to a lesser extent, Punjabi and Pashtu. Due to the diversity of the population in this region, which comes from various cultures, we can see a peek at both Iranian and Tibetan cultures here. For Pakistanis and visitors from other nations, Gilgit culture is the most fascinating and refined. Tourists who travel to Gilgit Baltistan to view places like Skardu, Basho, Deosai Plains, Satpara Lake, and Atta Abad Lake during their stay become very eager to experience and adopt Gilgiti culture. Due to Gilgit Baltistan’s world-class polo and ski teams, many visitors travel to observe the most well-known Shandur Polo Festival.
Despite the area’s isolation, a study has shown that a variety of ethnic groups, coming from various places, appear to have been established there. According to legend, Tibetans arrived from the Ladakh region, Buddhists traveled up the Indus, and Aryan shepherds arrived from the north. All of this took place prior to the introduction of Islam to this area in the 14th and 15th centuries. The Tibetans had a stronger cultural effect on the overall community before Islam. Furthermore, remnants of this influence can be found in the physique, characteristics, and vernacular architecture of contemporary Balti dwellings. The most noteworthy examples of Balti/Ladakhi architecture are the Kharpoche in Skardu, Khapulo Khar in Khapulo, Chakchan, Shigar Khanqah, and the Baltit Fort of Hunza. Similarly, comparable influences can be found in its architecture, where buildings with flat roofs painted white and sloping inward are created. Older mosques exhibit a blend of Persian and Tibetan architecture, similar to Ladakhi Muslim structures, but newer mosques exhibit a significant Persian and contemporary influence. The Balti language, which is regarded as a more ancient form of the Tibetan dialect, also strengthens this similarity. This area was referred to as “Little Tibet” by the Moghuls. Many of the eastern Baltistan regions lost a significant portion of their cultural ties to Tibet and other areas after Islam arrived. But in Baltistan’s western frontiers, these customs are plain to see. Baltistan is divided into three regions. The first region begins at Skardu, the administrative hub, and extends up to the Deosai plateau, which connects it to Kashmir to the south. The second region starts from Skardu’s north and east and is centered on Shigar, whose valley reaches the Baltoro glacier. The third section runs from the area close to the Valley of Shyok River, via the settlement of Khapalu, and terminates at the Ladakh border.
The majority of our attention is focused on Gilgit’s attire when talking about Gilgit Baltistan’s culture. Since the Silk Road has been passing through Baltistan’s hilly regions for ages, there has been a marked commingling of Chinese, Tibetan, Persian, and Arab, as well as subcontinental, cultural traditions. As a result, the Balti culture underwent a transformation that led to its modern manifestation. Islam also has a significant influence on it. The mountain people of Baltistan are among the friendliest and most hospitable in Pakistan, despite the tough and unfriendly climate. Baltistan’s primary population is religiously and racially homogeneous nowadays. There are numerous diverse cultures, ethnic groupings, languages, and backgrounds in Gilgit-Baltistan. Baltistan has a wide variety of cultures as a result of its geographic position.
The most popular item in Gilgit is the woolen cap, which attracts travelers from all over the world. The cap has a feather attached to it and is thought to represent men’s dressing integrity. These headwear are popular in the winter among people from various parts of Pakistan. In addition, men dressed in shalwar kameez, shawls, and weskit. A magnificent cap can be found in women’s clothing. The most well-known women’s headwear has jewels fastened to it and embroidery on it, which gives it a very upscale appearance. Even during celebrations, women dress colorfully in shalwar kameez, shawls, and lraghi caps.
There are primarily two categories of events and festivals: religious and cultural. Eidain (which comprises Eid-ul-adha, Eid-e-Fitr, and EID Miladnnabi) is a religious holiday. In terms of cultural festivals, the Shandur Polo Festival is the most well-known. Other festivals associated with various communities are also on the list, including Navroz, the Harvesting Festival (which people organize to thank Allah for blessing them with such prosperity), and the Babusar Polo Festival. The traditional sword dance performed by the people at such events is also very alluring. In Gilgit Baltistan, annual rivalry in sports including polo, football, volleyball, and skiing are common. Polo is the most popular sport in Gilgit, particularly in the Astore, Chilas, Nagar, and Hunza regions. Every year, several people travel to Gilgit Baltistan to take in the polo festival. Gilgit has been playing polo for several years. This game is the Gilgit people’s specialty. During their time in the region during their layover, even British citizens learned how to play this game from the Gilgit people.